Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Best of All Times

Sometimes life is just funny. You're sitting there in your roller coaster seat enjoying the scenery when the lights dim and your little canoe slides gently into a dark tunnel. Your ears prick up and you feel the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end.

Okay, I love the drama, don't you? What happened to me this week was that I found out that I have a 4 cm paraganglioma that has to come out. Surgery scheduled, plans rearranged and scuttled, major turbulence. Lots of opportunity for deep thoughts and examination of priorities.

Lots of lovingly talking to my carotid artery and vagus nerve where the mump has taken up residence. Always carry your iPhone with you into the doctor's office so you can get cool shots of your CAT scans and such for your journal. You can use them again on Dia De Los Muertos. I think my skeleton is very beautiful. I just stare at it and try to grasp the miracle of how our bodies do all that they do.

You wouldn't believe how much time you can burn reading everything any doctor has ever written concerning your malady. That's how I operate. Go online and scare yourself silly imagining all that could go wrong.

I've raised 2 daughters just like me so we get a good flap going in the hen house and then eventually settle ourselves down. It could always be worse. It could always even be worse than that.

My friend Paula McNamee turned me onto this; Rollataq adhesive. When she described it I couldn't imagine how it worked but now that I've tried it I love it, especially for gluing larger sheets of paper in my journal. It is much cleaner and faster than the gel I usually use and you don't have to swish out a brush afterward or clean the gel off your finger.

Look what's getting ready to pop just outside my front door. I'm bringing these in now to force in the warm studio; I'm headed in there now to amuse myself painting on cardboard and plaster. Only 2 more pages to go in the face book -yay! I'll check in again soon.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

January Gratitude

It's been a quiet week; time for introspection and contemplation. John is fully engaged in putting up the fence around his garden that he has been dreaming of for years. I feel a little sad for the families of deer who depended on us for a nice salad now and then. How do the wild creatures live with so many of us on their grazing trails down to the Willamette River? But I understand; after putting so much work into the garden it is sad to see things crushed by hungry deer.

This DVD arrived in the mail yesterday and I haven't had time to watch it yet but I know it is going to be delicious. Daniella is a friendly and inspiring woman who I first met at a conference in Boston. (come to think of it I met her before that when we were both exhibitors in the Bellevue Art Fair). She had been a textile artist for years and combines that now with encaustic. For anyone with a love of wax and textile this is a must see. Oh yeah, the heart is made of Sculpey. Thinking valentines already.

Journal page. Working on many things at once; not writing as much each day but lots of painting.

This reminds me of the juice cans we used to wear in our hair at night. She looks like she needs a few more hours of sleep. he he

Keep on keeping on. xo

Sunday, January 17, 2010


I painted 3 more faces in the FaceBook I started in November. I'm getting close to the end of the book now and I'm thinking about tearing it apart and using the faces in another project. It's really been a good exploration.

Young faces are all soft and rounded. As the face ages the bones come up. There's poetry in that, yes? Now that I've seen this on the computer screen I see she needs an ear. ha ha. I'll give her one soon. I like checking out the images on the screen. It's like looking at them through a reducing glass; you can really see the flaws.

Needs more work, more modelling. And more shparkley gold paint.

Reflection photo. Having fun with the camera. I'm learning to like January. Lots of time (at last!) for new interests and personal exploration.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Buds on the Daphne

The last few days in the Willamette Valley have been warmer than usual; today I got outside and pruned a few roses and while I was out there I noticed buds on the Daphne. Oh, joy rising. Spring coming. Light at the end of the tunnel.

This came in the mail today from a wonderful artist I count as a friend. We did art fairs together for years; during the long days we would seek each other out to visit, laugh and talk about art. She knows I like gin tonics. Thank you, Lyn. My reputation precedes me. ha ha.

I got off some shots too; still busy working the Photography online class that isn't a Photography class but for me it is because this is my year to learn, study, experiment with digital images. I'm loving it.

Talking rocks. (thinking of you, Kim!)


John and I celebrated our 30th Wedding Anniversary on Tuesday. My best decision ever, the one where I agreed to take another chance on love.

Another reflection. I'm not sad, just concentrating. Off to clean the studio now. Busy weekend coming up. See you in a few.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


A hard rain is falling in Haiti. Go here and follow your conscience. It will give you a good feeling.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Gaining Traction

Yesterday the schedule went up for the next Art and Soul Retreat to be held in Portland in October. Hop on over there and drool over the class listings; lots of fun is in store for us this year. Glenny and her crew keep coming up with great new ideas for after hours fun too - something about a fashion show where the contestants design skirts with lots of pockets. We can never have too many pockets!

For one of my class samples I used a watercolored drawing instead of collage. I always encourage people to use their own drawings if they like to draw; collage or photographs if they just want to play and design. I haven't worked in watercolor for awhile and I've been feeling the urge to illustrate along with my grungy paint. It's an uneasy mix but I feel like I'm going through another change in my work so I surrendered to the muse.

I cut her wee self out. The first drawings I ever did were paper dolls and I'm still not tired of them. Expect more.

In the raking light you can see the texture of the wood as well as the watercolor paper. All this will get covered with wax and resin.

This is the underpainting for the next image I'm going to share. A nice stacked cake shape with a ladder or something. I like to set up a difficult problem and then try to solve it.

Like a delicate watercolor set into a textural ground. Here I've copied my own work from the 80's.

This is what I ended up with. A bit of split personality but that's okay. Fortunately I'm not a brain surgeon. ha ha. Just tell yourself that if you're in doubt about your painting.

This past week I spent a day with a woman I think of as pure goodness. We shopped Anthropologie and then went for a fine lunch of Salad Nicoise. Several hours with this friend turned my cranky mood upside down. I'm learning that the dumps = visit a friend. Especially if that visit includes food in a cozy cafe, steaming hot beverages and great conversation. Do what gives you joy. Now if I can just remember that. :-)

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Loving January

Now that the holidays have passed it's like a great pressure has lifted and the brain fog is slowly clearing. I'm able to do some of the fun projects that I dreamed about all summer; altering some clothes to fit me better and trying out some dyeing with procion dye and soda ash. Back in the 70's I worked for about a year as a batik artist with those same dyes but I used a different method then and this is like starting over again. Beginner's mind. The best.

Elizabeth over at Blue Poppy has been working her mighty brain for days now to get the schedule up for the Squam sessions she's dreamed up for us in 2010. You'll want to look at the class listings for inspiration and dream fodder if nothing else. First comes the dream and the longing. And then ... who knows? It all starts with a seed of intention.

I've been playing in my journal every day too of course. That's where I get to make a mess, paint over it, make another mess. No rules, no judging, no one but me to care. It is my sanctuary.

I''m taking an online class with the fabulous Susannah over at Unravelling and these feet photographs are part of this week's assignment. First I had to make my toenails camera ready and then I had to think about those beautiful instruments of travel and navigation. Where those feet have taken me and how valiantly they have served me all these years.

Back in the early 80's a doctor diagnosed me with rheumatoid arthritis after I experienced a weird swelling in my lower toe joints. A friend who was a healer told me to go home and talk to my feet; to cuddle them and tell them I loved them and that I would wear sensible shoes for them and take good care of them.

I cried a lot over that diagnosis. And then I got busy. I massaged them and held them and told them I loved them and I've lavished love on them ever since and they have never given me any more rheumatoid arthritis.

I only tell you this story to illustrate that I think we think about how we look when we should be thinking about the gift of our bodies and their mysterious workings and we should be so grateful to our bodies down to every cell and fiber because we are miracles walking.

I love my feet. I love your feet. okay. I'm done now.

Monday, January 04, 2010


This is an exercise I did last night after being inspired by Katie's latest blog post and her self portrait there. First I printed 2 shots of my face side by side on a sheet of regular inkjet paper.

Then I painted over the one on the right hand side while glancing from time to time at the "model" on the left. This is easier done for me looking at the images upside down. You can see that I left out the deep smile lines; I don't know how to make them look natural anyway. So I kind of got the 20-year old version of my face.

Then I tore it out and glued it in my mini book of faces. Mindless fun; results will vary.

John cooked up a batch of Xochonostles; they are the discovery of the decade at our house but I can't give you the recipe until John has cooked it for all our friends because he wants to surprise them first.

Last week I was part of the jury for Portland's Gold Key awards given to High School art students of merit. I think it will be helpful to you who enter juried shows to understand what jurors focus on when making their selections. There were several wonderful portfolios that barely missed the cut because while their work was original and technically proficient, the images entered did not show a cohesive personal voice; I would almost say theme, to the work. It's so tempting to show a range of work as opposed to a body of work.

This is the advice I need to hear more than you do in all likelihood. But there it is. Personal voice. After all is said and done, what is it you want to say?

Carry on.